Ani Difranco is a poet and I wish my eyebrows were more like hers. Maybe I should get a nose ring…I was wandering around the city the other day, came upon a store, walked in, browsed, and walked out.
Ani-way. I went home and I logged onto my laptop and I opened my itunes and I searched for Ani Difranco because, there’s no reason why not to. A sad thing happened. It went missing. And it wasn’t stored on my computer. She should have been right after Alanis Morissette and right before Anika Noni Rose. It was a tragedy.
And so I googled “Ani Difranco you had time.” I feel better now. I can eat my roast chicken and kale chips in peace.
Born in Buffalo, New York in 1970, Ani spent part of her twenties in New York City, then returned to her hometown where she established first a business office and then a performance venue called Babeville as the twentieth century ground to a halt and the twenty-first one revved up. For much of the last decade she’s been based in New Orleans—but at her core she’s always seen herself as “a traveler,” covering pretty much the four corners of the earth by now, both solo and with her band. (There’s less corner-covering these days, now that she’s consciously slowing down a bit and raising a daughter with partner and co-producer Mike Napolitano, but she still gets around just fine, playing venues like Madison Square Garden for Pete Seeger’s ninetieth birthday bash and another star-studded lineup at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan for Wavy Gravy’s seventy-fifth.) Early in her career, Ani made a choice that is now so obvious to so many people that it’s hard to remember it was once considered brazen: to say no to every record label deal that came her way, and yes to being her own boss. That decision has earned her plenty of attention over the years, but it has never been what brought sold-out crowds to her shows around the world, fans debating every nuance of her lyrics, and fellow performers clamoring to work with her. No, all that has more to do with another choice she made early in life: To use her voice and her guitar as honestly and unflinchingly as she could, writing and playing songs that came straight from her own experience, her boundless imagination, her sharp wit, and her ever-more-nuanced understanding of how the world works. She did it in noisy bars with nothing but a shaved head and a lone guitar in 1990, and she’s doing it with renewed intensity today.
Something about this landscape just don’t feel right
Hyper air-conditioned and lit up all night
Like we just gotta see how comfortable comfortable can get
Like we can’t even bring ourselves to sweat
Sweat in the summer, shiver in the winter
Just enough to know that we’re alive
Watch out for that TV, it’s full of splinters
And remember you can always go outside
Really, really, really far outside
And some might call it conservation
And some might call it common sense
And maybe it’s because I am Libra
But I say balance balance balance balance
I say balance balance balance balance
Who put all this stuff in my apartment?
Who put all this ice in my drink?
Who put the poison in the atmosphere?
Who put the poison in the way I think?
O women, won’t you be our windows
Women who bleed and bleed and bleed
Women who swim with the tide, women who change when the wind blows
Show us we are connected to everything
Show us we are not separate from everything
So here’s to the trials of living
Here’s to feeling our share of pain
All the way from childbirth to dying
Here’s to being connected to everything
Here’s to staying connected to everything